Sunday, March 11, 2018

Paul on Malta

You have completed the reading assignment in Acts 27 and have experienced the thrill of riding out a storm, culminating in shipwreck.

All souls on board escaping safely from the ship, we read on into chapter 28 that the crew, the passengers, and the prisoners, of whom Paul was one, find themselves on the island of Malta.  The inhabitants, heathens, were kind to these people, built a fire to warm them and dry them out.  Paul, ever industrious, participated in the gathering of firewood to build up the fire, as it was a great crowd of wet and shivering people.

Now as Paul extended his load of fuel over the fire it seems the viper within his bundle of sticks was stirred into life, probably resented being tossed into the fire, latched onto Paul's hand.  The natives figured that one out real quickly as the snake was highly poisonous and few survived its venom.  "Aha! This man must be a murderer and the goddess of justice has decreed his death in the sea, but having escaped that, she now establishes that he is to die by serpent!"

But he shook the snake off, did not swell, and did not die.  Amazement!  Paul must be a god!  So they took him to their leader, one Publius by name, which boss man's father lay ill.  Paul laid hands on him, prayed over him, and he was healed.  So then all those on the island who were ill made their way to Paul, and they were likewise healed.

So after three months the travelers took passage on a ship to Rome.

Note a few things.

1)  God may use bad things to good ends.  (The shipwreck, the snakebite)
2)  Paul's prayer and laying on of hands resulted in healing of Publius's father.  Over the next three months many others who were ill were also healed.  It is not clear to me how much of this healing was miraculous and how much may have been the result of Dr. Luke's performance as a medical missionary.   God's healing power is often delivered through human hands.  In any event, it was in the will of God and no doubt led to dissemination of the Gospel of Jesus and the conversion of many.
3)  Surely God has a plan in seeing Paul to Rome.

Continue your reading in Acts 28.


Sharkbytes said...

Those miraculous healings of the early church are somewhat mystifying.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, a miracle, by its very nature, is mystifying. I believe in miracles, and I believe God sometimes uses ordinary means to accomplish his ends.

Vee said...

These accounts are riveting. I have to wonder if the miracles of that time were for a greater purpose (or if through the generations lack of full obedience accounts for the dearth of miracles.) Just wondering.

vanilla said...

Vee, the issue you are wondering about has been debated, sometimes fiercely, in theological circles. Some come down on every possible side of the issue; and there seems to be many sides!